As a presidential candidate Mr. Trump promised to relax the restrictions on political expression by religious organizations defined by the Johnson Amendment, today he – sort of – kept the promise and signed “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” executive order.
Still, the executive order alone, without Congressional approval, does not repeal the Johnson amendment and doesn’t affect in any way the existing rule which prevents religious organizations from endorsing political candidates. Politically, the executive order is largely a gesture without a major impact other than permitting the IRS not to penalize religious organizations for political activities or speeches.
Like many other actions of President Trump’s administration however the executive order has the power to cause harm. It will negatively affect women (as it enables corporations to deny women access to no-cost contraception). It violates the separation of church and state. Furthermore, the President’s executive order isn’t an order on religious liberty or free speech but political liberty within religious organizations which may have dire consequences. Religion always was the glue that held us together, it united us. The latest executive order will lead to divisiveness within religious institutions and will greatly diminish their moral authority.
What’s next? Are we going to sit in separate pews? Go to either a Republican or Democratic church?………..
In the opinion of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“The freedoms enshrined in our Constitution should be revered by all Americans, and the right to worship freely is inseparable from who we are as a people. But there is a clear difference between principles that unite us and politics that divide us. The executive order signed today by the President opens the door to a day when bigotry can be more easily disguised and protected under the cover of religious liberty. That should concern everyone who cherishes the idea that all people have dignity and deserve equal treatment.”
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich